Guilt, and the Concept of “Deserving to Suffer”
There’s something the whole world needs to understand about guilt and suffering.
In my position as a therapeutic spiritual counselor, and in day to day life in general, I can’t help but notice the crippling effects of the mechanisms of guilt and “deserving to suffer”. These can be terrible conditions, a dark cloud and a burden some carry for the rest of their lives. This needs to be more closely examined, so as to correct the condition and allow for relief and happiness.
So, really, what is “guilt”? The surface answer would be that it is feeling emotional pain and thereby suffering due to feeling responsible for causing or not preventing harm experienced by another. I get that, I’ve been there. I lost my older son to a terrible disease, and my pain was beyond description, so, even setting my own natural empathic feelings for what others experience aside, I know how that feels. I could not help but feel that I let my boy down, that I failed to protect him. This was with me for a long time, very intensely.
But, what did my son gain through my emotional pain? Not a thing; in fact, it was nothing less than one more difficult condition for him to bear. It didn’t relieve his suffering and emotional pain, nor did it prevent his passing. So where is the logic and benefit of guilt?
The true answer is, there is no logic in, and no benefit to, the pain and suffering of guilt over the idea that one has acted to cause or failed to prevent harm experienced by another.
So then, where does this unfortunate mechanism of burdening oneself with feelings of guilt come from?
It comes from the most damaging concept and attitude that has ever befallen any society or individual: the very idea that there could be such a thing as “Deserving to suffer”. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS “DESERVING TO SUFFER”.
You feel guilt once you accept the artificially installed, indoctrinated attitude of “I deserve to suffer”. The idea is that you could somehow compensate for your “sins” through “suffering that is proportionate to the sins”. Well, that’s a “noble” thought, albeit ridiculous. Did guilt and suffering ever fix or make up for anything anyone has ever done that had a bad effect on others? Of course not. YOU CANNOT MAKE THINGS RIGHT BY MAKING YOURSELF SUFFER FOR WHAT YOU FEEL YOU HAVE DONE WRONG. It simply does not work. It only makes you suffer, and it makes you disallow yourself to enjoy what you should be able to enjoy in your life. No good comes of it.
There’s something else, something within yourself that you are trying to solve through this mechanism of self-punishment, something more immediate than the harm to another that you feel burdened with. And this is what holds it in place: your own unwillingness to fully examine, have and accept your choices and the consequences they had. Instead of really looking, having, and spiritually fully digesting all the energies, emotions and sensations embedded in the painful continuum of whatever that particular experience is, the tendency is to try to escape that pain, and to do so by instead “feeling badly” (“guilt”) about the choices made, rather than just fully digest the consequences, and whatever did occur.
As we all are subject to religious and/or social indoctrination of “deserving to suffer”, “guilt”, on the surface, becomes a “convenient”, and “noble” escape and alternative to “the real work” of just fully taking what happened, without resisting the feelings, sensations and energies thereof.
It can be a nearly overwhelming challenge to take on those feelings, those memories and consequences; but it must be done, if we are to liberate ourselves from our self-imposed life sentences of suffering in failed efforts to compensate for what we are resisting within ourselves.
You may feel or find that you need help to get through the experiences. I can help. So can others. There is no liability and no shame in getting the help you need to do what you need to do. But your liberation lies in simply, and fully, accepting, rather than resisting, your choices, and the full spectrum of their consequences. Once done, it always turns out to be so much less formidable than what you have been imposing on yourself through the failed lie there being such a thing as “deserving to suffer
The false concept of there being such a thing as “deserving to suffer” has plagued mankind for ages. It has become a popular tool for damaged people to inspire others to do terrible things to others, and has resulted in horrendous suffering and pain through the ages.
The sick attitude of vengeance is opportunistically challenged through “they must be made to suffer for their actions”. Wars, hard feelings, conflicting political attitudes that prevent us from really being present with each other, never-ending vendettas that go all the way back to biblical times, none of these could be without the instilling of the emotional, social and spiritual disease which is the idea that there is such a thing as “deserving to suffer”. Self-serving sociopaths learn to control others to do their misguided bidding, in the name of “making them suffer”.
No good purpose is forwarded by willfully, intentionally causing another to suffer. Sometimes a person who is too dangerous to others must me quarantined, for others’ safety. But doing so in such a way as to intentionally make that person suffer is inhumane, unacceptable and inexcusable, regardless of how “acceptable” it might be characterized sometimes.
Recognize the cancer of the implanted “deserving to suffer” attitude and concept whenever and wherever it shows itself, in yourself and in others. Liberate yourself, and those around you make your life, and in fact, the world a better place. Make your own conscious decision to abandon the crippling game of applying “deserving to suffer”, however it might manifest, to self or to others, and let sanity, love (including of yourself), and connection prevail.
I would like to dedicate this writing to a friend who has suffered more than “enough”. Give yourself permission to be happy. Now.
With Love, Dex